You’ve been doing meditation exercises on a meditation app for a while now. In stolen minutes, you sneak out and plug in your headphones to calm your senses for a moment. It’s obvious how powerful those short meditations are, but now you want more. How do you deepen your meditation practice? These three tips will help you get started.
Tip 1: Deepening your meditation practice starts with a good preparation
One of the biggest barriers to start meditating is the sitting. Doing nothing at all but sitting and breathing, is an unappealing prospect for most beginners.
Many meditation apps have cleverly capitalized on this by offering an entry-level program. From guided meditations and visualizations for the visually inclined creative to walking meditations for the anxious person who can’t sit still. A fixed feature of these accessible meditations is that you can do them anywhere and at any time: walking, lying down, at your desk or on the toilet. Usually there’s very little silence and the meditation guide will talk your ears off. Everything to tame the monkey mind of the meditation beginner.
Really sitting down is a big step, but an important one if you want to deepen your meditation practice. Fortunately, seated meditation doesn’t have to be a punishment. Just make sure that you turn a place in your home into your regular meditation corner. Make it a cozy safe haven. Light a candle or burn an incense stick – this will get you straight into the mood. Do a few yoga exercises before you start, so you won’t distracted by any pains during the meditation.
The idea is to be comfortable but not too comfortable, otherwise you run the risk of falling asleep. The gurus have thought of something: the cross-legged seat, also called Sukhasana in Sanskrit. Literally translated it is “the easy pose,” but after fifteen minutes this pose no longer feels so easy. If you meditate effortlessly for half an hour in Sukhasana, try the half or full lotus position. Challenge yourself and find that little bit of discomfort that will keep you awake.
A thick yoga mat or sheepskin is nice to sit on, especially if you have sensitive knees. A meditation cushion or bolster will help you with your upright posture. Comfortable yoga clothes, such as Shaktified yoga leggings made of organic cotton and a warm yoga top, minimize distractions. Cold or uncomfortable clothes are no longer an excuse. Once you are all set, close your eyes. Surrender and embrace silent sitting.
Tip 2: Let the power of ritual work for you
Deepening your meditation is simply a matter of lots of practice. To make meditation a regular part of your life you need to find a way to squeeze it into your daily routine, without becoming too strict about it. If you can’t muster up the courage one day or if you really don’t feel like it, gently persist and try to do it anyway. Even if it’s only for five minutes. If that doesn’t work either, try to see it as an exercise in non-violence. Forgive yourself and just pick up where you left off the next day.
A good tool to weave meditation into your daily life is habit stacking. A term from the acclaimed Wall Street Journal author, S.J. Scott. In his book, he shows how to teach yourself new habits by chaining them to already existing ones. You use a simple trick from behavioral science to you’re your brain from resisting.
What’s the first thing you do when you wake up? You go to the bathroom, then you brush your teeth. If you light the candles and start meditating right after that, that also becomes part of your routine. This way you address the unconscious brain. But isn’t meditation about awareness? I can hear you objecting. That’s right. The meditation itself is an exercise in awareness. But habit stacking doesn’t require you to have the discipline to commit to it time and time again, because you act on autopilot.
Tip 3: Start your meditation before sunrise
Instead of tweaking your meditation practice to go deeper, try changing your timing. In India, they are very specific about it. Brahmamuhurtha, or “The Creator’s Time,” starts at 4:24 in the morning and ends at 05:12 before the sun rises. It is considered the most appropriate time for spiritual activities. If you’ve ever biked through the canals of Amsterdam just before sunrise, I’m sure you can imagine. Meditating undisturbed, while the rest of the country is still vast asleep increases its effect. In the break of dawn, even if only for a moment, nothing stands between you and the rest of the universe.